Some More Rules From David Carr

Early on here at, we shared some parenting advice from David Carr, one of this century’s great journalists—a man whose life was cut surprisingly short when he collapsed suddenly on the floor of the New York Times building. While he was here, Carr not only wrote many great articles, but he was also a great father. 

Carr battled back from a crack addiction to get sole custody of his two young daughters, who he raised into being successful, well-adjusted adults. In her memoir, All That You Leave Behind, Erin Lee Carr describes a conversation they had on the day before an important job interview/meeting in New York City. She had not taken it particularly seriously yet, and her father was concerned. “You are not smart nor pretty enough to not shower every day,” he told her (humorously, of course). Meaning: She better not just roll out of bed and show up to this thing. And he had some very specific advice for her on how to nail it:

-Bring a notebook (to take notes and to show you are there to learn)

-Do 2-3 hours of research on each person before the meeting (so you know what you’re talking about and so you don’t waste the limited time alloted to you on the basics)

-Be early (on time is late!)

-Offer to pay the check (even if it’s expensive. They paid you with their time, which is worth a lot)

-Know the people’s background

-Ask questions

“Above all,” he said, “do your fucking homework.”

The funny thing is that this is all great advice for dads in their own careers (who among us actually treats every meeting and potential opportunity we are offered so seriously?). But ultimately, it’s a great look at how a great dad operates. A helicopter parent would book a seat at the next table and listen in. A snowplow parent would use their connections to buy their child an internship. A lazy or selfish parent wouldn’t even care what their kid was doing. 

A great dad?

They teach their kids principles. They use individual situations as opportunities to give advice that will last a lifetime. They don’t do the work for them—but they teach them how to do what they need to do. And in so doing, they set them up to succeed (and Erin Lee Carr’s memoir and her brilliant documentaries are proof).

P.S. This was originally sent on November 6, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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